Here’s how the playoff picture stacks up after week 13:
Last week, I pointed out that the AFC was one giant mess of teams within a couple games of each other. Nothing has changed in that regard, but there is separation between the teams that are likely to be in the playoffs and those that are on the bubble (everyone else).
At this point, it seems very likely that the Patriots, Texans, Ravens, and the Steelers have all but secured playoff births. They’re all 2 games in front of the next closest pack of teams in the AFC, and there’s only 4 games left to play. Seeding is a completely different tale. At this point, the Steelers still have a very real chance of claiming the top seed in the conference. They own the head-to-head tie-breaker with the Patriots, the Texans are down to T.J. Yates at quarterback, and the Ravens are prone to dropping games against teams they should be beating handily.
The wild-card race in the AFC is even more interesting. As it stands, the Broncos are a division leader at 7-5, and the Bengals are the 6 seed, also at 7-5. I include the Broncos in the wild-card picture because it is very possible that they could lose out on their division but still claim the 6 seed. The Titans may be the hottest team out of the playoffs right now, and their schedule lends itself to making a run towards the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if the Bengals fall out and the Titans sneak in at 7-5. And for the record, I don’t see the Raiders beating out the Broncos for the AFC West. I do believe that it’s time for Timmy Tebow to make it into the post-season.
The NFC playoff picture remains much more clear than the AFC picture. The Packers are the 1 seed, the 49ers will be the 2 seed, and the Saints will be the 3 seed. Beyond that, it gets much less clear.
The Cowboys hold a 1 game lead over the Giants as it stands. Unfortunately, they also have Tony Romo as their starting quarterback. The Giants have Eli Manning. Advantage Giants. That being said, the Giants need to snap back to life. Granted, they gave the Packers a great run last weekend, but that loss will do little to help them achieve their post-season aspirations.
The wild-card race is a 5 horse race. Aside from the Giants and Cowboys, the Bears, Falcons, and Lions are all jockeying for those last 2 spots in the NFC playoff picture. The Falcons are lucky to be in their current position after losing tough games to the Saints and Texans in recent weeks. The Bears are the weak team of the group. Their quarterback situation is nothing short of desperate, and the Lions should be looking to steal that last playoff position. All that considered, I think that the Giants are the best team of the lot. If they aren’t able to win the NFC East, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take the Bears’ playoff spot. The Lions haven’t inspired any confidence in me lately, and I’d be surprised if they turn their season back around in time to make a run.